How to sight in your new rifle
You finally got that rifle you have been wanting and a scope to boot.
Attention! Never assume the gun and scope have been introduced to each other that is, that the gun shoots where the scope sight is looking. Even if a gunsmith has "bore sighted" the pair for you, you must accomplish the fine tuning for yourself.
This will ensure the gun shoots straight according to your handling and sighting technique, and seeing it happen will build your confidence in your new rifle that will go a long way toward shooting success.
First, bore sight the pair. This means looking through the bore at a target or small object and, holding the rifle in place, aligning the crosshairs of the scope on the same object. This can only be done with bolt action rifles and single shot rifles that break open. In-line muzzle loaders can be bore sighted as well.
To bore sight, remove the bolt and rest the rifle across an open pasteboard box with notches cut in the top center of opposite ends a small notch to fit the barrel and a larger notch to fit the rifle's grip.
Look through the barrel at a small target 50 yards or so away such as a certain brick in a wall or a knot on a tree. Shift the box to center the target.
Then, without moving the box, look through the scope and adjust the crosshairs to center on the target as well. Re-check that the crosshairs are centered on the exact spot you see through the bore. The rifle is bore sighted.
Are you ready to go hunting with the rifle?
All bore sighting does is get you close to aligning your sights. Strange things like bullet rotation, forearm pressure and barrel whip play havoc with where a bullet goes once the rifle is fired, not to mention bullet weight and design and the powder charge which are different for each brand of ammunition.
Shoot the rifle with the cartridges you plan to use at a 100 yard target.
Use the best rest from a sitting position that you can get the best being a bench rest with at least 2 sand bags one under the forearm (not the barrel) and one under the butt of the stock. Adjust the scope until the bullet holes strike 2 to 3 inches above the bull's eye if the rifle is for deer hunting.
An alternative to bore sighting, handy for the above actions that block your vision to the bore, is to shoot the rifle at a target placed 25 yards away. Unless the scope is terribly out of alignment with the bore, you should hit the target somewhere at that short range.
Adjust the scope until you are on the bull at 25 yards. For most deer rifles such sighting will produce hits 2 or 3 inches high at 100 yards. But check the gun on the bench rest by firing at the 100 yard target.
Otha Barham is Outdoors Editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.